Minestrone Soup

When I was about to have Fiona two years ago, I did something I considered quite daring: I asked for help for my meal making in that last month. I was as huge as a heifer, my right leg perpetually swollen, everyone telling me to have a seat, but I still needed my family fed. Someone told me about Mealbaby and this is the post I wrote about this wonderful site created to help people in need when babies or sicknesses or a death in the family disrupts their life routine.

shalagh and newborn  Fiona on

Although it requires you to ask for help which is very hard for some of us, suddenly you have people who you never realized cared so much signing up and showing up. People who aren’t caterers bringing you wonderful balanced meals and you feel oh so grateful.

One of these meals was this minestrone soup. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a high opinion of this soup. But this version is almost like a tomato vegetable stew with seashell pasta. Lovely fresh basil notes, a little wine, and Eamon was immediately a huge fan. So I was too.

Another minestrone soup makings on

Jamie’s Minestrone Soup  (Jamie’s Minestrone Recipe – via


Original recipe makes 8 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 onions, chopped

2 cups chopped celery

5 carrots, sliced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

4 cups tomato sauce

1/2 cup red wine 

1 cup canned light kidney beans, drained (but you could use a white bean like a cannelini bean too)

1 (15 ounce) can green beans (but I always use frozen or fresh)

2 cups baby spinach, rinsed

3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (dried is fine if you have the fresh basil)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or a good dollop of the basil paste in a tube from the produce section)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup small seashell pasta (but we prefer to cook the box and then add what we want to the bowl)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)


  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
  4. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve.

Seriously, this soup and chili are the only two opportunities I have to urge large quantities of vegetables plus the dreaded “bean” down my kids throat. And if you made it with veggie stock, it would be vegetarian so keep it in mind for the fall I suppose. I promise the seldom recipes I do share will be the best I’ve got.

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And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

May Gardens Grow

Although I have given up on my garden to a great extent ( see this post for the back story for my grief-talk), Mark soldiers on with his. In fact this year, he constructed a raised bed to improve and expand his prior garden design. One year we decided to order our tomato plants from Burpee and we’ve done so ever since. We began this practice the year after I started everything from seed and then most of our majestic six-foot plants were tragically struck down by the Downy White Mildew Blight. Heirlooms go first. Hybrids don’t bat an eye.

Pregrown planties from Burpee on

This incident is one of my reasons for my heartbreak and grief in the garden. But not Mark. He get’s such enjoyment from the planning and the production, giving away more than half our yield to friends, neighbors, and in state relatives, that he couldn’t stop even if he wanted to. Veggie Junkies have been created. He needs to feed their dependency.

Mark's garden April 12 2015 on

The new bed was planted perpendicular to the old bed and so there was a bit of the old bed left. My son Eamon really mostly hates anything that gets his hands dirty or is remotely related to “yard work”. So having him help has been really disappointing at best. But this year I said he needed to plant a wildflower garden in the old bed and he said “yes”. The trick is to figure out everyone’s GAS. I said we would draw a map. He was excited.

Eamon and his garden mapping on

I had a fist full of seed packages that had waited to be thought of. Some were old wildflower mixes. While I had two coreopsis, some zinnias, Echinacea, and a random bag of blossoms from a dried up celosia plants from my Mother-in-laws. I have no idea if any of them will germinate. But I told Eamon to divide the garden into quadrants and the map them out. So this is what he made.

Eamon's garden map on

We are hoping that Fiona is bitten by the gardening bug. So far though, Mark had to convince her that worms don’t bite. And every time she sees a bee she says “Ow”. There’s still hope for his garden help and my kitchen assistant though. Some teeny tiny garden gloves and an apron might need to be added to the dress-up chest soon.

tomatoes and green peppers at the end of April on

The Snap peas and zucchini (courgettes), as well as the swiss chard and garlic have all been reported doing well. There seems to be some concern over the cucumbers however. I’ll keep you posted. Happy gardening!

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

The Easter Egg Debacle

I know you think I am a nice person. And I am most of the time. But a patient person? Having a toddler has shown me all of my imperfect impatient downfalls. These became glaringly apparent when we went to dye Easter eggs this past Saturday morning. How quickly I had forgotten the Christmas cookie baking lesson. Dying Easter eggs on

I thought I would be able to figure something out on the fly. Give her a way to dye the eggs. But boom, she’s trying to lay the egg down on the flat table, grabbing the cups of dye, and there’s just no way to baby proof this event. As I was already twitching from the rest of the morning, the moment she took the egg and crushed it in her fist, I knew we were done.blowing bubbles on

I bloody well love dying Easter eggs. It’s totally a thing for me. Mandatory seasonal crafting along with carving pumpkins. But there are certain things that need to be done without two year-olds and this was one of them. I didn’t mention the brain exploding amount of patience it took the other day to hold the bubbles for like 45 minutes straight while she attempted to blow them, did I. I’ve just gotten rid of the eye twitch and pray it won’t return.

Yes, some women are born to have and raise children with infinite patience and no other expectations. Pas moi. I could do without this toddler phase except for the utter heart stabbing cuteness of her saying “Wogger” for water. And the shrieking contagious giggles she gets when her Dad zerberts her on her tummy.eggs and bowls on

So I am now completely aware that again, I’m not a toddler crafter. I need to leave this stuff to the pros. I’ve learned my lesson. And I’d like to apologize to Fiona, and I just might some day, but not today. I am however secretly praying she doesn’t take this event personally and have it thrown back in my face at age thirteen.

The posts are no longer truncated and all words will appear in your mailbox. However, if you want to see all my lovely full color pictures, you’ll still need to click over to the blog to view those.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks a bazillion for your visit.

Our Christmas 2014 Highlights

Gladly, Christmas took it’s time getting here this year. It didn’t sneak attack but rather stealthily aimed itself at my life and I prepared for the onslaught with the small people in mind. It’s easy to be slack about holiday happenings when you’re a swingin’ single gal. You are carefree as it ought to be. Because the next phase of your life involves being responsible for small lives and their happiness forever.

Playing with the Christmas loot on

Littles need lots of selfless consideration, preferably well in advance so you don’t get knocked for a loop when the big present might not arrive in time. But there’s really nothing to be done about the fading sound of the ringing of the belief bell.

Her very own laptop on

Christmas 2014 highlights necessarily include happiness and a little disaster. Of course Eamon woke up the first day of Christmas break sneezing and gifted me his cold for Christmas. My nose was in the holiday mode with red and green nostril discharge at any given time throughout. Festive! And Fiona can now say Ah-choo, so funny.

And then Christmas Eve, I walked into our office to see Fiona at the desk on the chair with my open laptop pressing the on button. And then pressed it off. It would seem that the computer has to “repair” itself after such an incident. I thought my brain would explode with worrying. And then, for some unknown reason, I thought it would then be a fabulous idea to make another round of cookies that same day too. But everything is well that ends well.

Waiting for the cookies to bake on

Our new hot water heater, installed last Spring, hadn’t been doing its 80 gallon best and a test of the bottom element found it to be bad. Really? I think I’m officially a grumpy old lady because new appliances are now a dreadful thing to me. Like when you get them and they don’t work or they’re really loud or they aren’t as efficient as the last one. Hate that. I offer my vacuum cleaner picture as proof.

Kenmore vacuums aren't what they used to be on

But Mark went right ahead and called and the part will be here this week. Unfortunately he’ll have to install it and that should prove tricky with his hand healing after a carpal tunnel operation tomorrow. One hand Stan I’ll be calling him.

Princess potty on

Happiness was everywhere. I decorated three beautiful trees without a hitch. There were no complaints about the presents because either the child got what they wanted or didn’t have a clue that such a day existed and was so very happy to have new presents magically appear. And this year I made sure to number the presents on the bottoms with a master list for me so the present shaker was thrown off. It worked!!!

All three children together on

But most of all, my children were happy and healthy and here with us opening presents and stealing candy cane chunks to suck until she spit out the plastic wrapping. And we had food on our table that we shared. More than some others during these holy days. If we could get around our shame and our pride, many people could enjoy their holidays just a little more.

So Happy New Year to All and I hope you have much to be grateful for.

See you in 2015. Otherwise known as Friday.


As children, we learn numerous other essential life skills from play. We learn how to get along with others and how to practice self-control lest we lose our playmates due to a tantrum. And play makes us happy. So, is it surprising that happiness has been linked to success? I suppose you can be successful without being happy (Donald Trump) but are you enjoying the success?

A successful happy life is also linked with humor because laughter is a direct antidote to pessimism and discouragement. So to attempt to lead a successful life, it would seem we need to start shopping from the happiness aisle. And if that means playing more, so be it.

 dog pillow on couch from Playtime post on

According to Dr. Alan Marlatt of the University of Washington, if we make the play activities ‘shoulds’ and not ‘wants’, “We run the risk of burn-out and turn to alcohol and other chemical substances to give us relief that we get from play”. Um, yes.

Play activities need to be “want” activities and not “should” activities. And I can say I have spent so very much time stuck in the “But I need to get this done and I should accomplish that before I let myself play” section of that other aisle. Such a habit of wanting to accomplish but not realizing I no longer valued fun and lived in a constant state of boredom, continual hard labor, and adultness. Until recently when I have discovered Creative Flow and am Connecting the Dots of creative self.

 Fiona and Mr Crackers from Playtime post on

What kind of parent would I be if I did this to my children. Even as a farmer with multiple children, if I needed to till the garden and plow the fields and rethatch the roof, I would still need to cut those laborers some slack to get their yayas out. Because that’s what you do.

In my graduation to adulthood, I forgot what it was like to be a child. To play and learn and wonder and add to the world I am in. I became subsistence girl. Survival mode keeps you alive alright. But it is our destiny to do more than just survive. We have the gift to live and thrive and grow.

jammling on that xylophone from

So I vow to give myself way more time to play. Whatever that means and however I can make that happen. Play is more important than I have ever given it credit. And so is happiness. Happiness is all it’s cracked up to be.

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